Adventist leader strives to expand health care options in Prince George’s Co.

This content is sponsored by Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center.

Eunmee Shim has an inspirational vision for southern Prince George’s County that includes a larger hospital, a robust provider network and a long list of specialty services that are spread more evenly across a region where residents too often face a lack of options when it comes to their health care.

“I became very aware of the underserved area surrounding Fort Washington and the need to have a bigger hospital presence,” said Shim, the president of Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center. “I became a strong advocate for that.”

Shim has been on a long and successful journey through her career.

She migrated to the United States from South Korea in her late 20s, worked in various nursing positions and ultimately became a leader in the health care industry serving as a hospital executive, an ambulatory services director and a strategic planner.

Prior to her being named to her current position in 2019, Shim served as chief operating officer at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center before becoming the chief strategy officer for Adventist HealthCare where she oversaw new business initiatives for one of the longest-serving health care systems in the D.C. region.

Shim holds a master’s degree in nursing informatics from Columbia University in New York City and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from South Korea’s Sahmyook University.

Lack of options causes a ‘perfect storm’

Despite being similar in population size to neighboring Montgomery County, Prince George’s County looks very different in terms of the overall availability of health care resources.

“In almost every specialty, we are at about 20% to 25% of Montgomery County’s provider numbers per every 100,000 residents,” Shim said.

Medical providers in Prince George’s County are not located evenly across the area. According to Shim, they are clustered in the northern and eastern parts of the county, leaving the southern portion with fewer options.

The number of hospital beds per 100,000 residents in Prince George’s County is 73 while Montgomery County has 125.

Maryland as a state has 155 beds per 100,000 residents.

“You couple those things with the fact that we do not have a large hospital to anchor physicians in the community and you have a perfect storm,” Shim said, noting that the disparity is having a significant impact on minority populations.

The service area around Fort Washington is comprised of 70% African American and another 10% to 12% other minority populations.

“One of our goals is to bring in culturally-competent and culturally-sensitive physicians,” Shim said.

Expanding the hospital, adding specialties

Shim’s comprehensive approach to reducing health care disparities in southern Prince George’s County includes not only a plan to bring in more doctors but also a proposal to continue overhauling Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center itself.

“We have a great vision for the future outlined in our strategic plan to expand the hospital and add more space and innovative resources,” Shim said.

Her goal is to add more beds and greater in-patient capacity, so residents won’t need to travel to other Maryland counties, Virginia or D.C. to find medical care, a situation that frequently arises in the current environment.

Shim wants to add at least 40 primary care providers in the next five to seven years, and she is actively seeking out specialists, such as infectious disease physicians, neurologists and cardiologists.

“Almost all specialties have little to no representation right now,” Shim said. “We have one of the largest diabetic populations in the state around our service area, but we have no endocrinologist in the market.”

Additionally, the coronavirus pandemic has led to a shortage of nurses locally and around the country.

Shim promised that continued growth in southern Prince George’s County would be supported through a “robust recruitment plan” that includes international recruitment efforts.

Ambulatory access points

Shim’s vision for the future is already becoming a reality as a new health destination is currently being constructed in southern Prince George’s County.

It will be an “ambulatory access point,” meaning it will provide medical services performed on an outpatient basis.

The new facility will occupy 73,000 square-feet of space at National Harbor and will include a surgery center for outpatient surgical services, cancer care, a rehab center and the ability to perform a full range of clinical services such as diagnostic imaging.

“It has multiple healthcare operations that can be identified by the community as a place to receive care and not have to stay in a hospital,” Shim said.

Shim’s hope is to add several more ambulatory access points in the area – possibly three or four more – that would serve as a link between themselves and Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center.

“We will be the best community hospital you can find in any community,” Shin said. “That’s our goal – to have the safest and best quality health care rendered by the most experienced professionals in America.”

To learn more about our refined patient care and to find a physician, visit www.AdventistFWMC.com/ForYou. To reach President Shin, send a message to FWMCExecutiveOffice@AdventistHealthCare.com

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